23 October 2005

A Theistic Argument (against naturalism) from Evil

The Militant Pacifist sees “Naturalism” as the primary enemy of Christian thought in modernity (or post-modernity, wherever it is that we are).

The so called “Problem of Evil” is thought by many pagan philosophers and naturalistic thinkers to mitigate the existence of the Christian God. In his essay “A Christian Life Partly Lived” (from the essay collection Philosophers Who Believe: The Spiritual Journeys of 11 Leading Thinkers - see link in the posting title above), the renowned philosopher (and Christian) Alvin Plantinga argues for the reality of a powerful “Theistic Argument from Evil (pages 72-73).”

“ ...there is a theistic argument from evil, and it is at least as strong as the antitheistic argument from evil. (Here I can only sketch the argument and leave it at an intuitive level.) What is so deeply disturbing about horrifying kinds of evil? The most appalling kinds of evil involve human cruelty and wickedness: Stalin and Pol Pot, Hitler and his henchmen, and the thousands of small vignettes of evil that make up such a whole. What is genuinely abhorrent is the callousness and perversion and cruelty of the concentration camp guard taking pleasure in the sufferings of others; what is really odious is taking advantage of one’s position of trust (as a parent or counselor, perhaps) in order to betray and corrupt someone. What is genuinely appalling, in other words, is not really human suffering as such so much as human wickedness. This wickedness strikes us as deeply perverse, wholly wrong, warranting not just quarantine and the attempt to overcome it, but blame and punishment.

But could there really be any such thing as horrifying wickedness if naturalism were true? I don’t see how. A naturalistic way of looking at the world, so it seems to me, has no place for genuine moral obligation of any sort; a fortiori, then, it has no place for such a category as horrifying wickedness. It is hard enough, from a naturalistic perspective, to see how it could be that we human beings can be so related to propositions (contents) that we believe them; and harder yet, as I said above, to explain how that content could enter into a causal explanation of someone’s actions. But these difficulties are nothing compared with seeing how, in a naturalistic universe, there could be such a thing as genuine and appalling wickedness. There can be such a thing only if there is a way rational creatures are supposed to live, obliged to live; and the force of that normativity – its strength, so to speak – is such that the appalling and horrifying nature of genuine wickedness is its inverse. But naturalism cannot make room for that kind of normativity; that requires a divine lawgiver, one whose very nature it is to abhor wickedness. Naturalism can perhaps accommodate foolishness and irrationality, acting contrary to what are or what you take to be your own interests; it can’t accommodate appalling wickedness. Accordingly, if you think there really is such a thing as horrifying wickedness (that our sense that there is, is not a mere illusion of some sort), and if you also think the main options are theism and naturalism, then you have a powerful theistic argument from evil.”

The Militant Pacifist summarizes – naturalists who believe in the existence of evil are intellectually inconsistent, i.e., they are irrational idiots.

Your perception of evil is a powerful testimony to the existence of the God who made you!

If you believe in evil, but not in God, then you should look into this inconsistency immediately!!!

Idiot - A foolish or stupid person. (The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company.)

1 comment:

Todd said...

I like your writing!! Keep it up.